Recently we had the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan. I won’t get into the myriad theories as to why they got married. Maybe they liked each other. Whatever the case many Black women and a more than a few Black men applied the hashtag, #Blackexcellence to the event. My response was “really?”
So this biracial woman who as far as I know has never spoke out on issues affecting the Black community is somehow a symbol for Black achievement because she managed to snag a prince who doesn’t have real power and makes questionable choices, cough, Nazi costume, cough. Many Black women actually expressed the thought that this represents a great moment for the community. SMH.
The thing is that the idea of a Black being the first CEO of some Fortune 500 company or the first to open a collared green sandwich shop in Beverly Hills is some type of progress. It’s a myth that these firsts or achievements elevate the race. During the American Slavery period there were Black slave owners. Did that elevate the race?
This blog isn’t about Harry and Meghan. I want to address a bigger issue. Too often in the Black community we look at an individual achievement and tell ourselves this will someone advance the race. Often the achiever will have very little connection to the Black community and will move away from the community if they even had a connection to begin with. Many of these achievers will even marry into another culture. How is this advancing the community?
Contrary to popular thought the only way that the Black community can elevate is as a group. If one were to examine the dominant social groups on the planet whether they are racial, ethnic, religious, or even political the common factor is that they rise collectively. Unfortunately many in the Black community don’t see this. Let me get deeper into this idea.
I’ve heard many Black men express the idea that they can succeed in business without the help of a group. Often they view it from their individual efforts. True they are the ones providing products or services but who are their customers? Who are the people supporting their business? It’s the community. If a person is only dealing with Black customers they are dependent on those people for support. Even if they are selling products and services to non-Black customers that is still the community they are dealing with. Also most businesses have to deal with other businesses. That is another type of community.
The bottom line is that no man is an island. Any man building something needs the support of other men. As a writer I can think I have success as an individual. Indeed I was recognized as having the article of the year on this very website. This was an article that went viral drawing even celebrity attention. I can puff my chest out and act like it was an individual achievement. I would be deluded. It took a community to make that article to go viral. I’ll break it down.
Before I even wrote that article I had to be given incentive which came in the form of prepayment from Oshay Duke Jackson. Once I wrote the article it still had to be prepared for publication by an editor. The article gets published and people still had to read it. Enough of those people had to think enough of the article to share it around the world. This wasn’t an “I” achievement but the achievement of a community.
To truly rise we have to stop thinking the elevation of single, even exceptional individuals is all it takes. A situation such as a royal wedding or being the first Black CEO does nothing to elevate the greater Black community. We either rise together or not at all.